Dakota Datebook

Eagle Woman That All Look At

written by Merry Helm

December 31, 2018 —Eagle-Woman-That-All-Look-At was the daughter of Two Lance, chief of the Upper Yankton Nakota, who felt she was destined to gain some of the admiration the tribe had given him. He was correct. She was respected for her integrity, strength and sense of justice.

Eagle Woman married Honore Picotte, a French fur trader at Fort Union. When he died, she married another trader, Major Charles Galpin, who called her Little Eagle. Other whites called her Matilda or Mrs. Galpin.

In 1862, while Eagle Woman accompanied Major Galpin on a trading expedition among the Blackfeet Indians in Montana, Santee Indians fired on them in their keelboat. The Santee pushed out in small boats, surrounded Galpin, Eagle Woman, and the crew, and towed them to shore.

Four aggressive chiefs were among the group. Another man recognized Eagle Woman as a fellow Yankton. He paddled closer and whispered, “Sister, I will try to save you.” Eagle Woman showed no emotion as she awaited their fate. Finally, one of the chiefs said, “Eagle Woman, we spare the daughter of Two Lance. We have scalps enough. You and your lodge may go.”

From this experience, Eagle Woman realized the escalating distrust and fear Indians felt toward whites. So it wasn’t welcome news when Father De Smet asked Major Galpin to bring Eagle Woman as interpreter on an expedition to find Sitting Bull in Montana. She realized this was an opportunity to prevent further bloodshed, and she agreed and helped persuade 70 friendly warriors near Ft. Rice to come along for protection.

Three days from Sitting Bull’s camp, a band of Lakota dropped down onto them from a cliff. They were told that Sitting Bull was willing to talk to Father De Smet and was waiting at his camp on Powder River. Privately, Chief Four Moons told Eagle Woman that they would probably kill the two white men, and that she should stay apart from them. But she refused.

When they reached the camp of 600 tepees and five thousand Lakota on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Father De Smet and Major Galpin were led away to a tepee, but Eagle Woman spent the rest of the day going from tepee to tepee as a sign of respect and friendship. When she finally returned that evening, she was relieved to see the major and the priest not only safe but well fed and resting.

The following morning, the three were led to a council chamber where Sitting Bull, Four Horns, Gall, Sitting Buffalo and others waited. Eagle Woman knew the strength of the U.S. military and advised the Lakota to stop fighting. “The white men are stronger than your thousands of warriors,” she said. “What good will your hunting grounds do you when their blood cries out from the ground?”

Sitting Buffalo, the medicine man, resisted. “My people shall not come to the fort to live like old men too old to hunt. What are you, a Sioux or a white man’s slave?”

Eagle Woman countered, “Were I a white man’s slave, Sitting Buffalo, I would not have come to you! We came of our own will, even though we learned that you planned to kill us.”

In the end, Eagle Woman and the priest convinced Sitting Bull to let Chief Gall and forty lodges go back with them to northern Dakota Territory to appraise the Lakota’s options.

When her husband died, Eagle Woman took up his business and became a respected and successful trader. One account states that, “The commissioners and agents agree that she wields a more powerful influence among the Grand River tribes than any of their chiefs.” Some accounts even state that she became a chief herself, but because she married white men, that’s not possible.

In 1872, the U.S. government chose Eagle Woman to personally select a delegation of thirteen chiefs and accompany them to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Grant, General Sherman and the Secretary of the Interior. Then, they were taken on a tour of the war department, naval yard and arsenal to impress the chiefs with their military strength. The delegation also attended an opera in New York. They were supposed to go on to Boston, but with some of the chiefs ill, and the others homesick, Eagle Woman cut the tour short and the delegation returned home to Fort Rice.

At home, skirmishes with the Lakota continued. One day, Lieutenant Benjamin Wilson was ambushed while on a logging detail. Three arrows knocked him off his horse – one in the shoulder, one in the thigh, and another in the back.

Eagle Woman saw it happen from her window and ran outside. She understood what would happen next and threw her shawl over Wilson as three men circled back. In her native tongue she yelled, “This man belongs to me now! You cannot touch him!”

They circled her, but she knew if she held her ground, they would back off. She had done it with the Lakota in Montana. And she had once stopped a war party at the Grand River Agency by promising that if they’d stop fighting, she’d cook for them.

It worked this time, too.

Eagle Woman was with her daughter, Alma Parkins, when she died on December 18, 1888, at the Parkins Ranch near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Her other daughter, Lucille Van Solen, started the first school on Standing Rock Reservation; Solen, North Dakota, is named after her.

Past Reflections

written by Sarah Walker

January 1, 2019 — In the start of a new year, it is nice to step back and think about what has happened and what is to come. Many cities publish information summing up events and statistics of the old year. On the first day of 1948, the Fargo Forum published a forty-page newspaper, filled with description of the previous year’s progress and with predictions for the coming year in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The baby boom was definitely well under way; among the top articles in the many, many pages, the Forum listed reports of increased population. The Cass county birth rate was up, and the divorce rate was down, one article stated. Judging by gas and water connections, telephones and electric meters, though, not all of which had been installed, the city had grown by hundreds, even thousands.

Of course, with increased people, more places of business and residence needed to be established. The Forum claimed that residential construction hit five million dollars in 1947, and it showed no signs of stopping.

Therefore, it should serve as no surprise that the North Dakota baby derby, celebrating the first new baby born in the New Year, benefitted a West Fargo child, a girl born to the Mannes family at 12:25 a.m. on January 1.

But a baby boy was born at the exact same time in Minot, to the Wilson family.

“The 1948 stork derby in North Dakota will go down in the books as a two-way tie between the sexes,” the Bismarck Tribune stated.

It was an auspicious start to a new generation.

The Homesteader’s Son

written by Ann Erling

January 2, 2019 — In May of 1900, John Link bid farewell to his native home in Bohemia and set sail for America. Like many immigrants before him, John settled temporarily in the east where he was able to find work in a textile factory in Massachusetts. After many years of working, John had saved enough money to send for his childhood sweetheart, Anna.

In 1906, John and Anna Link traveled west where they homesteaded in McKenzie County, North Dakota near the town of Alexander. Who would have known that this hardworking Bohemian homesteader would raise a son who would go on to become a North Dakota governor?

And so on this date in 1973, John Link congratulated his only son on becoming North Dakota’s newest governor.

Although unable to attend the inaugural ball, John Link was present at a dinner held by Governor Arthur A. Link at his new home. Upon seeing the Governor’s executive residence, the 94-year-old North Dakota homesteader exclaimed, “Some homestead shack you’ve got here.”

Big Bread

written by Merry Helm

January 3, 2019 — In January of 1957, the Brownee Bakery in Fargo turned out the world’s largest loaf of bread. They worked on it for 12 days before getting it right, and after 17 failures, they finally produced the perfect loaf.

Some bakers pride themselves on bread that’s light as a feather; but this record breaker weighed a whopping 375 pounds. It’s not clear where they got a pan or an oven big enough to handle it, but the final product was 6-feet long and 2-feet high.

Northwest Airlines flew it to Minneapolis, where it was sold at auction for $855 during a banquet honoring North Dakota. The project was a promotion cooked up by the Greater North Dakota Association, with proceeds going to charity.

375 pounds of bread… That would take a lot of baloney.

Pierre Bottineau

written by Merry Helm

January 4, 2019 — Bottineau County was created on this date in 1873 and was named for a mixed-blood guide, Pierre Bottineau, sometimes referred to as the “Kit Carson” of Dakota.

One of Bottineau’s notable expeditions was in 1862, when he guided a wagon train of 117 men, 13 women and 50 soldiers from Fort Abercrombie to the Montana gold fields. They averaged 16 miles a day and had to build a log bridge to cross the Sheyenne River. A young couple fell in love and got married, a mule drowned crossing the Wintering River, one woman had a baby, a wagon tipped over, women washed clothes and baked bread, and on Sundays, one of the men read the Episcopal service. At one point, a number of Assiniboines threatened them, but Bottineau and his son shot some buffalo cows for them, and they were allowed to move on.

After many years of service, a group of important Minnesota leaders petitioned Congress in 1879 to give Bottineau a pension for all he had done for them.

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, or subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast.

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